Clatsop County will have a new community development director soon after the calendar turns.
Gail Henrikson will fill the position on Jan. 8. Heather Hansen left in November after three years and has accepted a senior planner position in North Port, Florida, where she had worked previously.
Henrikson, 50, of Astoria, has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and more than 13 years of planning experience. After moving to Astoria in 2015, she most recently has worked as an ad designer at The Daily Astorian.
“I miss a lot of the complexities and challenges of public service,” Henrikson said. “You get to build a lot of relationships in the community, and that’s something I really miss.”
Henrikson’s experience working for a coastal community in Florida stood out from the roughly dozen applications for the job, County Manager Cameron Moore said. The county Planning Department must often find balances between development and environmental or historical preservation.
Henrikson’s most immediate challenge involves filling a staff that, when complete, includes five full-time employees and one part-time employee. Another employee left the department around the same time as Hansen. Those departures, plus temporary absences due to illness and family emergencies, forced the department to shave its hours in December, Moore said.
“We just had a lot of things hit us all at the same time,” he said.
The department issues permits for land use development in unincorporated areas, updates the county’s comprehensive land use plan and ensures compliance with building codes.